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Its Not Easy Sifting Through the Waste Area

Somebodys got to draw a line in the sand on this whole thing! Ever since Sundays finish in Hilton Head things have been chaos at Golf Channel Headquarters. Starting with Sunday nights 'Sprint Post Game,' continuing with 'Golf Central,' and running deep into Wednesday nights 'Sprint Pre Game,' where the focus should have been on Humble, Texas and the Shell Houston Open, all anyone wanted to talk about was Stewart Cink, loose impediments and a possible loose interpretation of the rules as we thought we knew them.
Trust me on this, weve looked at more tape than 3M ships out in a week. Ive spent more time thinking about, and making phone calls on, this one incident than any story I can remember in my nine years at TGC. And Im hardly alone among those whove dedicated their working life over the past few days to figuring this thing out. (The beauty of this job, by the way.)
You know what Ive concluded? Not much, to tell you the truth, except that I think the list of those to question runs pretty deep.
  • Start with Stewart Cink. Say what you want about his interpretation of what he could or could not do, but it just seems like he might have gone where no man had ever gone before in that waste area. One of the absolute most honorable and respectable players on tour, Cink, like it or not, will not soon escape his link to the rule.
  • Slugger White comes next. I give this guy a huge dose of credit for taking me up on the offer to join us on Wednesday nights 'Sprint Pre Game.' Did we hear from the referee, who many think handed Ohio State the national title against Miami, just a day later on national television? However, somewhere in that conversation walking off the 16th tee the lines of communication became a bit blurred. My biggest question remains: If White and Cink never talked walking toward the waste area, would the outcome ultimately have been ruled differently?
  • Ted Purdy is no saint in this whole thing. Hes mad now, but how closely was he watching what Cink was doing in that waste area? Remember, he had a similar shot in regulation which didnt turn out nearly as well. His drop at the 13th wasnt exactly letter perfect, and PGA Tour rules official Jon Brendle should get one of Purdys first Christmas cards this year.
  • CBS Sports didnt exactly jump all over it the minute Cink went to work. Wheres the whoa, wait a minute to go along with the videotape?
  • The PGA Tour cant get a whole lot of help from the USGA, because the USGA doesnt even recognize waste areas in the first place. So why doesnt the PGA Tour fall in line? PGA Tour rules, local rules or USGA rules? No wonder were always confused.
  • And finally, lets throw course designer Pete Dye into this while were at it. Guess what, he called our show Wednesday night right after it ended to apparently say that he never intended for it to be played as a designated waste area with different rules. I havent spoken with him, yet. But hes fired up to join us Sunday night on the 'Sprint Post Game' so dont miss it.
    Whatever your feeling is about the outcome -- the ruling and the players in the storyline that Sunday will not soon be forgotten -- I think it bears mentioning with strong emphasis that each of the characters in the plot gave us their time.
    Cink politely declined a live chat on 'Golf Central' and the 'Sprint Pre Game,' but did return my phone calls and did spend time with me talking about it on two separate occasions, giving me his side of the story for use on the shows.
    Slugger White talked with us on 'Golf Central' Monday night, returned my call again on Tuesday and agreed (with Jon Brendle) to put an appearance on the 'Sprint Pre Game' ahead of his sons baseball practice and his family in general.
    Ted Purdy hardly hid from our phone calls and seemed to give viewers the same line of discord that he gave to our Jerry Foltz on the telephone. Trust us, hes mad.
    I dont know what becomes of the situation from here. But I hope you can appreciate their respect for the issue and their respect for how passionate we, as fellow fraternity members of the sport, are about these situations as they arise in front of our very eyes.
    I do know this: Im a member at Windermere Country Club here in the Orlando, Fla. area. And weve got a few waste areas that Ive found myself in before. And the next time Im there, or anybody is for that matter, people will be talking about the shot Ill play, how Ill prepare to play it, questioning the result if they didnt watch my shot, and also throwing the name Cink into the conversation. It just cant be helped.
    I do hope we can get things back to normal in a hurry, though. Im suddenly missing all the e-mails and discussion about whats wrong with Tiger, why the media fawns all over Tiger and why were also all now so quick to fall in love with Phil.
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann